I consider myself a pretty passionate person. And if you’ve been reading Of Houses and Trees for any length of time, you’d probably agree that when it comes to sustainability and preserving our beautiful planet – I’m all in.
But I’m passionate about more than making the world a greener place. Literature and the art of writing. Listening to and composing music. Creating interior spaces that tell a story. And – for as long as I can remember – dance.
I consider myself very fortunate to be able to work not only as a freelance writer, but also as a dance teacher, and that in the past (and hopefully again in the near future) I’ve had the opportunity to perform as a professional dance artist.
As you can imagine, I get pretty damn excited when I get to combine the things I’m passionate about – such as writing, dancing AND sustainability. It creates a lovechild of sorts. This blog post is one such lovechild.
I would say that in the dance world (and I’m generalizing here and referring to Westernized dance) there is little focus on environmental concerns. Certainly, there have been dance pieces that centre on our relationship with the earth and its resources. (Such as Karole Armitage’s On The Nature of Things or my own humble little work, Dirt.) But when I think of the daily life of a dancer, I think of a lot of consuming and not much conserving.
Dance shoes are usually made out of leather and animal-based glue. Animal products are not sustainable nor are they cruelty-free. Not only are the materials unsustainable, shoes are quickly worn through, discarded and replaced. Plus, a need for new dance wear, new costumes and new makeup/beauty products for performances means dancers are forever buying the latest and greatest of everything.
As a dancer, the best thing to do is – as I always say – think before you buy. And when you do buy, know that there are eco-friendly options. Sometimes they aren’t the cheapest. Sometimes they aren’t the easiest to find. But they’re out there. And now, they’re right here too.
Vegan Ballet Slippers and Pointe Shoes
While the majority of ballet shoe brands don’t yet offer non-leather options, there are a few that actually do. Even though it’s a few years old, I found this post from Big Tent Vegan quite helpful in identifying vegan ballet shoe options.
Another company that offers vegan ballet slippers – as well as vegan pointe shoes – is Grishko. You have to special order them as they normally come with suede soles, which they will replace with cellulose soles upon request.
Gaynor Minden also makes vegan pointe shoes. While some of the above listed companies don’t offer the vegan option directly on their website, Gaynor Minden does – which is a thoughtful addition on their part. I have pretty much always worn Blochs, but I’m planning on getting fitted for Gaynors next time I need a pair of pointe shoes for several reasons – the vegan option being one of the main ones.
If you’re looking for vegan shoes for dance styles other than ballet, check out PETA’s post here.
As for tights, Pediped carries organic cotton tights for kids, and Capezio carries tan tights made from bamboo. I’m still on the lookout for eco-friendly pink or white ballet tights in adult sizes – so let me know in the comments if you know where to find some!
ReCreate Costumes is a website that both buys and sells gently used costumes worn by competitive dancers. According to the site, all costumes purchased must be in good condition and are sold at roughly half the original price.
If you’re looking for something simple and less costume-y – perhaps for a contemporary or dance theatre piece – try your local thrift/secondhand store. I got the skirt I wore for Dirt from Goodwill – it’s actually a slip!
Also, if you own a studio, are a dancer or a parent of a dancer, try hosting a costume swap or selling/giving your used costumes to someone else. It’ll be new to them!
Cruelty-Free Makeup and Beauty Products
I wear a pretty minimal amount of makeup on a daily basis, but of course when I perform I slap on quite a bit more as that’s how stage makeup works. I must diverge on a brief rant and say I find it completely unnecessary that some makeup companies STILL test on animals and you may be surprised how many makeup brands PETA includes on their do test list.
Thankfully, there are also a ton of companies that do not test on animals. And companies that care about being cruelty-free usually care about being eco-friendly as well. My favourite cruelty-free makeup brand is Physicians Formula, who also just so happen to have an organic line.
Eco-Friendly Dance Bags
I linked to Motherearthmandala in my Eco-Friendly Holiday Gifts post because their bags are made from recycled materials. They sell backpacks, shoulder bags – even yoga bags – and I think all of their products are really beautiful and unique.
If you need something a little bigger, this duffle bag was handmade using all natural materials.
Other Green Dancer Ideas
Being a green dancer doesn’t only mean buying eco-friendly products. Sometimes, it means buying nothing at all. Try your best to make your dance supplies last as long as possible. This means taking care of them. For example, airing out your pointe shoes after wearing them or wearing something more than once before washing (yes I do this, and no I don’t stink). Also, as much as I love me a YouTube leotard collection video, no one needs 20, 50, 100(!) leotards. As beautiful as they are – try and resist. Be strong. You can do it.
Another way to green your dancing is by greening your fuel. No, not the fuel in your car (well… that too). I’m talking about your food. To maintain our energy, dancers need to eat often and we need to eat a lot. Choosing sustainable food items like fresh fruit and veggies, beans and legumes and whole grains makes our bodies and the environment happy. Also, consider packing snacks and meals brought to the studio in alternatives to plastic bags, wraps and tupperware, such as reusable cloth pouches or stainless steel containers.
Lastly, a huge factor in creating a more sustainable world – whether that be a microcosm like the world of dance or the world as a whole – is mindfullness. Once you start incorporating eco-friendly mindfullness into your daily life it becomes second nature. Kind of like pointing your toes.
Note that this post contains affiliate links, meaning if you click on a link and make a purchase a small percentage of the sale goes to yours truly. Know that I only link to products that are good for the earth, good for the soul, or both!
Posted on February 26, 2018 (Last Updated August 16, 2018)